Why Vitamin C Is The Answer To A Year-Long Summer Glow
Turns out, vitamin C really IS the bright stuff.
Summer’s gone and fall is in full swing. Now, we have nothing against this time of the year (falling leaves, indoor fires, red wine Sundays, bliss) but isn’t it annoying when your skin lacks that certain glow it seemed to naturally emanate when the sun was out in full force? And we’re not talking about craving super tan skin that, in all honesty, has been damaged by the sun and will age you up faster than you can say ‘pass the SPF.’ No, we mean the feeling and look your skin has when that warm light is just right. You know where we’re coming from, yes?
Well, just because the days are getting grayer, this doesn’t mean your skin has to follow suit. And neither do you need to spend an extra hour on your skincare routine morning and night just to get your glow on. As it happens, just one ingredient can give your skin the natural radiance it deserves.
Say hello to vitamin C.
Otherwise known as l-ascorbic acid, topical vitamin C is a super potent skincare ingredient that works hard to protect, brighten, strengthen and rejuvenate a tired, dull complexion. It often gets a bad rap by skincare cynics because pure vitamin C is a tricky customer when you apply it to your skin. It can be a tad powerful for some skin types, is highly acidic and it breaks down easily on contact with your skin. Not great news, in case you were wondering.
So, why do we rate it so much? Because, l-ascorbic acid isn't the only vitamin C option available. In fact, there are some awesome derivatives such as sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) which are infinitely more superior than the pure stuff. SAP is a salt version of pure vitamin C and much gentler (but no less effective in the long-term) on your skin. It’s also more stable when it comes into contact with light, air and water which helps it maintain its potency for way longer. Ever wondered why our vitamin C products look a little cloudy? Well, this is due to the salty nature of SAP – kind of like when salt is dissolved in water. Light bulb moment.
So, how exactly does vitamin C work when it comes to brightening your skin and giving you that gorgeous, glowy feeling? Buckle up, here’s the science bit…
1. Vitamin C Is A Powerful Antioxidant
Just like vitamin E, retinol and hyaluronic acid, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are super important for the look, feel and health of your skin because they fight free radicals which are created in your skin thanks to external lifestyle and environmental triggers like smoking, alcohol, pollution and exposure to the sun. When free radicals form in the skin, they do a real number on important proteins, DNA and fatty acids, causing all manner of damage which shows up on the surface of your skin by way of lines, wrinkles, dark spots, poor texture, uneven skin tone and sagging.
Thankfully, antioxidants are your life-saving Batman to those free radicals' evil Joker: battling away to stop their onslaught of harm to your skin. And as long as you include plenty of antioxidants in your diet and your skincare, you should come out on top.
As antioxidants go, vitamin C is one of the most well-studied and proven in terms of visible effects on your skin and, according to experts, applying it topically can be 20 times more potent than taking it orally.
2. Vitamin C Inhibits Melanin Production
More good news: vitamin C is not a one-trick pony in its bid to help you achieve a brighter complexion. As well as its ability to quash free radical damage (otherwise known as oxidative stress), vitamin C also inhibits melanin synthesis by decreasing the production of an enzyme called tyrosinase.
Bear with us for a second while we get a little technical.
As you know, melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its unique color. Same for your eyes and hair. When you’re exposed to the sun, melanin production ramps up in a bid to protect your skin against UV damage. This makes your skin look darker and tan. However, melanin production can also go awry, causing your skin to become patchy and uneven-looking. These dark or sun spots are a type of hyperpigmentation called solar lentigines.
Now, back to tyrosinase.
Tyrosinase is an enzyme that catalyzes the production of melanin, so by interfering with tyrosinase production, topical vitamin C simultaneously hampers the amount of melanin in your skin, therefore helping to fade existing dark spots AND reducing the likelihood of you developing new ones.
We told you it was good stuff.
3. Vitamin C Acts Like A Mild Exfoliator
Vitamin C doesn’t exfoliate your skin in the traditional way like scrubs or alpha hydroxy acids. However, it does promote cell turnover which has a similar end result.
Skin has a natural way of shedding, a process called desquamation. On average, the life cycle of an adult skin cell is around 28 days, in which time it forms, matures, dies and sheds. As you get older, however, this life cycle becomes sluggish, often slowing down to as much as 90 days as you reach your 60s. The result is that skin starts to look less radiant – because dead skin cells don't shed as easily, causing dullness and a tired-looking complexion.
This is why boosting cell turnover through ingredients like retinol and vitamin C, or exfoliation techniques like facial scrubs and AHAs is so important as you get older and skin becomes less vibrant and youthful-looking.
How To Embrace Vitamin C In Skincare
To benefit most from the glow-inducing powers of vitamin C, a facial serum is 100 percent the way to go. Facial serums have a small molecular structure which allows them to deliver ingredients to your skin way quicker and much more effectively than other skincare formulations. And that’s a scientific fact.
Because we love vitamin C so much, four of our six serums contain SAP, our favorite form of vitamin C. Of course, if you’re a purist, you can’t go wrong with the momma of the C-gang, our original and best-selling Vitamin C Serum For Face. This fan favorite and current holder of almost 90,000 ratings on Amazon combines vitamin C with vitamin E and hyaluronic acid to help you reinstate the radiance you deserve. Shout out also to our awesome Vitamin C Super Serum+ which combines vitamin C with retinol to hit the signs of aging where it hurts.
Check out our full range of facial serums and skin care kits, right here.
We also formulate vitamin C into our Brightening Cleanser, Brightening Moisturizer and Deep Hydration Night Cream, so you really can take it up a notch and go for it across your whole regime if that’s your skincare jam.
Just remember, always patch test any new product when you first try it out. SAP is very well tolerated, but like most active ingredients, it’s pretty powerful and isn’t for everyone. Always try a small amount on a discreet area of skin and leave it for 48 hours to test for a reaction before using it on your whole face. And we don’t just say this for fun: it’s important, OK?
Now, get glowing, you beautiful people.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.